Applying for a New Social Security Number After an Adoption
Congratulations on the finalization of the adoption of your minor child. While it likely was a long arduous process, be careful not to relax too much now that you have finalized your adoption. There still remains at least one more item on your post adoption check list to cover, and that is obtaining a new Social Security Number for your child.
The Social Security Administration Guidelines have changed in recent years and allow any child that is adopted to obtain a new Social Security Number after an adoption. Significantly, there are no exclusions for older children or children adopted by grandparents. Also, the mandatory in-person interview conducted when an applicant is twelve or older and applying for an original Social Security Number does not apply to adopted children applying for a new Social Security Number. However, one of the few remaining exclusions is that adults who are adopted cannot receive new Social Security Numbers.
Once the Final Adoption Order is signed by the judge, and the child's new birth certificate is received, you should immediately make plans to head to the local Social Security Administration Office in order to obtain a new Social Security Number for your child.
It is recommended to obtain a new Social Security Number to prevent fraud, misuse of your child’s identity, and harassment from former family members or caregivers.
A Social Security Number is necessary to:
Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return;
Open a bank account for your child;
Buy savings bonds for your child’s future;
Start a college fund for your child’s educational needs;
Get healthcare coverage for your child; and
Apply for state or federal governmental benefits for your child.
Your child may or may not already have a Social Security Number. However, it is likely that your child’s birth mother filled out an application for a number at the hospital where she gave birth and a Social Security Card was mailed to her. In this case, the new Social Security Number will replace the former one. Notably, when dealing with child applications for new numbers, Social Security Administration Guidelines advise personnel at field offices to walk through the application process slowly and carefully, as if the parents were applying for a number for their child for the very first time.
The application for a new Social Security Number for your child must be made in person at your local Social Security Office. The field office for the Atlanta area is located at 401 West Peachtree Street Northwest, Atlanta, Georgia. For additional locations, the Social Security Administration provides an online tool to search by zip code, accessible at this link: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp.
When applying in person for your child’s Social Security Number, you will need to bring with you the birth certificate that you received after the adoption was finalized and a certified copy of the Final Order of Adoption. You will also need to provide proof of your own identity. Your driver's license and passport are both acceptable forms of ID. You will also need to fill out Form SS-5, which can be found online (www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ss-5.pdf).
After the application for a new Social Security Number is submitted, it can take between six to twelve weeks to obtain the new Social Security Number and Card. If tax season is looming and you need to claim child-related tax breaks before the new Social Security Number arrives, you may obtain a temporary Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) by completing IRS Form W-7A (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7a.pdf). The ATIN can be used for two years or until the Social Security Number is provided, whichever occurs first.
For more questions, contact attorney Christina E. Campbell, who has the experience and training to help you navigate the adoption process, at (404) 981-5257.
Barb Clark is a contractor with the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She provides peer support to families impacted by an FASD. She also is a member of the MOFAS speaker’s bureau. She has a B.S. in Youth Studies, English, and Sociology. She has a daughter on the FASD spectrum and she has been a youth leadership trainer and youth worker for 20 years working in the public school system and in the non-profit sector.
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